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2019 Youth Activist Scholarship Winners

06 May 2019 Published in Youth Activist Scholarship

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2019 is the 12th year that the ACLU of Utah is awarding scholarships to Utah’s outstanding college-bound high school seniors who have demonstrated a strong commitment to civil liberties activism.

A committee of educators and community leaders met in March to review applications from more than 25 inspiring young activists around the state. These four students were chosen for their inspirational work in standing up for civil liberties in their schools and communities.


Saida Dahir is a trailblazer. The 18-year-old Somali-American Muslim came to the U.S. as a child refugee and became an activist by combating the stereotypes she faced in her everyday life. Saida uses her powerful words and emotions to connect with people from all different walks of life through her poetry and engagement with groups like Black Lives Matter Utah, March For Our Lives Utah, and Utah Environmental Solutions. Saida strives to be the representative of power and responsibility that she never saw growing up 

Jeniel Zimmerman’s passion for activism can’t be stopped. In between serving on the March For Our Lives Utah board and running the Gay-Straight Alliance at Mountain View High School in Orem, she organized a school walkout and planned the Utah County Youth Climate Strike. Next fall, she’s headed to the University of Utah’s Honor's College to earn a degree in political science before attending law school to become a civil rights lawyer and show that queer youth can overcome the unique challenges they face and become successful.

Asha Pruitt was born to lead. Not only is she Youth Mayor Pro Tempore of Millcreek City and the president of her school’s Political Activist Club, but she’s also the Executive Director of March for Our Lives Utah, helping that group register 2,000 new voters and raise $12,000 for gun reform. She has written slam poems about being the child of an immigrant, debated narrative arguments using queer theory, and directed a one-act comedy satirizing climate change deniers. Asha will focus her education on becoming a human rights lawyer and, one day, a U.S. Senator.

As an immigrant herself, Sofia Catalina Negrete-Retamales strives to eliminate the injustices faced by immigrants and minorities. The Copper Hills High (West Jordan) senior serves as President of the Latinos In Action program, co-founded the first Women Inspiring Strength and Empowerment club, and particpates in her school's National Honors Society, Hope Squad, and Slam Poetry team. She also interned at Comunidades Unidas, where she drafted a petition for compassionate immigration reform and delivered it to Utah's Cngressional representatives in Washington, D.C.

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We are grateful for the support of the B. W. Bastian Foundation, the McCarthey Family Foundation, and other private donors for this year’s scholarship program. 

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Review past winners >>